Former famous soviet international Mamuka Losaberidze is candidate to be the next president of the Russian rugby union. On December 19th, he will face Vyacheslav Kopiev in the most anticipated election since years inside Russian rugby. Mamuka Losaberidze, 50, is currently the vice-president of the Russian Rugby Premier League. In this second part, Mamuka Losaberidze talks about TV coverage, his national team plan and his Soviet-Georgian roots.
How do you plan to improve TV coverage of rugby in Russia ?
Most of the fans watch rugby matches on TV. It’s a very important communication channel. The main sports channel in Russia are Match TV Plus and cable network NTV Plus. They are interested to broadcast matches with lot of fans and high ratings. Until recently the Federation did not pay any attention on showing rugby on TV. It was possible to see the games of the national team only in recording and not always. I can say with some feeling of proud that when I became the vice-president of the Premiere League, Match TV started to show in their TV-broadcast the information about championship rugby of Russia. For us it was a big step forward. Of course it was very difficult to introduce direct TV-broadcast of rugby matches into central TV but there’s Internet TV. I think that is our way of promoting rugby. We should make contracts for showing matches of Nations cups, make TV-broadcast about rugby, its history, rules, show and tell about famous players. We should attract youth, young people, find and interest new fans through social network. It’s necessary just to work !
What’s you opinion about RWC Sevens failure in Moscow ?
To have the right to organize the RWC Sevens is very honorable. Beside that, if the cup is very correctly organised, it gives an impulse for development of rugby in the country. Unfortunately, it didn’t work in Russia. I think it was much too early to have the competition when we had it. The rugby federation didn’t manage to organize the RWC Sevens properly. That’s why there were not enough fans present at the games of such high class. And as the result there was no increase of interest for rugby.
Do you have any specific plans to improve Russia national team’s schedule ?
To my opinion, the main steps to improve the situation with the national team are as follows :
– To organize the second (youth) national teams both in rugby and rugby sevens
– To include the youth national team into the Russian Championship. That will help to improve the playing practice to the reserve of the national team of Russia and increase the skill of playing with strong teams. It’s necessary to concentrate the efforts on players of 16-18 years old who by the 2023 will make the base of the national team.
– To look for players at first and second row who are now our very weak point. It’s possible to look for those players in other kinds of sport if we attract a skillful coach.
– To invite foreign specialists for training of coaches for children and adult teams and developing modern system of training to grow up professional players.
– To create centers for searching and training of players of different ages for nationals teams of Russia in many regions of the country (Krasnoyarsk, Pensa, Moscow and region, Krasnodar, Kazan, Saint Petersburg).
What kind of relations do you want with Russia neighbors in Europe? Do you want to look at Asia?
I think it is necessary to enlarge and improve our relations with our European and Asian neighbors. Cooperation, exchange of experience, organizing and taking part in international tournaments – all of this is the base of good relations. Look at rugby games, the fans are not divided in different sectors, all seats together and respect the other team and the country which they come from. That is a good reason to be proud. That is the base of flourishing of rugby sport.
« I know that sport from inside »
About your background, would you say it’s an advantage or an inconvenient to be Georgian Russian to become president of the union ? Overall, what do you think of the relations between Georgian rugby and Russian rugby ?
Russia is a multinational country, there are more than 190 nationals, 37 languages beside Russian are the state languages. Never before we had any ethnic problems. Both Russians and Georgians are orthodox Christians what makes our brotherhood connections even stronger. Taking in consideration my age I can say that I’m a soviet player because I was born in the Soviet Union where friendship and brotherhood were not only words. When I was playing for the USSR national team, there were players from all over the country . I think that my Soviet-Georgian-Russian background only helps me. I personally know a lot of rugby players who live in the former USSR, and believe me, we still have very warm relationship. Georgian rugby now shows a tremendous growth. Rugby is a number one game in Georgia which unites the whole country. Of course there are differences between our countries : the population of Georgia is 4 million and of Russia is 142 million. The distance of Georgia of west to east is 500 km and of Russia – 10000 km. All that make specific peculiarities. But there is a lot to learn from Georgians otherwise they would not be much higher in world rugby rating. We have future to improve.
What was the club where you played in France ?
I was a member of the CA Bédarieux Grand Orb Rugby club which was in the second division of the France Championship. I think it was a very good experience for a soviet rugby player in 1989.
What are the differences between you and Vyacheslav Kopiev ? What would you do not like him ?
When in 2003 Mr Kopiev was appointed the President of Federation, it was new and interesting for him and for some time he was doing something good for Russian rugby, it must be confirmed. But then he lost all interest. For the last 5 years, he hasn’t visited a single region, he never visited any match of Russian Championship or Cup, never visited a single match of the national team. He even never visited the Federation. He left his deputies to run the business who were very far from rugby. Rugby is all my life, I know that sport from inside, I visit regions, know rugby players. I visit all matches of the Russian national team. The main difference between Mr Kopiev and me is that for him it’s just a position, and for me it’s life.